6 Quadriceps Exercises to Stabilize the Knee (2023)

6 Quadriceps Exercises to Stabilize the Knee (1)Share it on Pinterest


The vastus medialis is one of fourquadricepsmuscles, located on the front of your thigh, above your kneecap. It's the inside. When you fully extend your leg, you can feel and sometimes see this muscle contract.

This part of the muscle just above the kneecap is called themedial oblique (VMO).

The vastus medialis helps stabilize and align your kneecap when you bend your knee. If you have knee pain or a knee injury, it may be due to weakness in your medial vasculature or other quadriceps muscles.

While you can't technically strengthen your knees, you can strengthen themmuscles around your kneesto help stabilize the knee and prevent injury. Having a strong core muscle helps prevent knee injuries.

Here are some vastus medialis exercises that you can do at home or at the gym every week.

This exercise isolates your lats. Sitting for a long time with the correct posture is very important in this exercise. If you feel like you're bending forward, try sitting with your back, shoulders, and buttocks against a wall.

(Video) 7 Best Quad Strengthening Exercises For Knee Pain

Material used:mat, wall and ankle weights (optional)

Muscles Worked:quadriceps

  1. Sit on the floor with a high posture. Your shoulders should be pulled down with your back with your chest proud. Bend your left knee toward your chest with your left foot flat on the floor. Extend your right leg in front of you with your foot pointing slightly to the right.
  2. Hold your left knee with both hands clasped and keep your right quadriceps bent for the duration of this exercise.
  3. Exhale. Without losing your stance or leaning away from the wall, lift your right leg into the air as high as you can. Hold this position for 1 count.
  4. Inhale and slowly lower your right leg back to your starting position. Try not to knock your right heel down.
  5. Do 12 reps for 3 to 4 sets, then switch legs. If you find this exercise easy enough, add an ankle weight placed on the thigh (not the ankle) of the extended leg and perform the same exercise for the same number of reps.

Expert advice:If you can't lift your leg at all, don't be discouraged. It's pretty common and just means you need to strengthen your lats.

However, you should feel a contraction above your knee. Place your right hand on your right thigh just above the knee and slightly to the left. As you flex the quadriceps, you should feel the medial muscle contract.

As you get stronger, you can lift your leg off the floor.

This move helps strengthen the muscles in the front and back of your legs and lower back, allowing you to swim and squat properly without knee pain. In this exercise, both legs are strengthened simultaneously.

During this exercise, one leg will always push off the step while the muscles of the other leg contract and control the descent.

Material used:stepper and ankle weights (optional)

(Video) Stop Knee Pain Now! 5 Exercises To Strengthen Your Knees

Muscles Worked:quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves

  1. Stand up straight with your left leg straight but not locked and your right foot on a small step. Your right knee should be slightly bent and your left foot should be flat on the floor. Your right knee should not go over your toes. Squeeze your core for balance.
  2. Exhale and push up from your right leg until both legs are fully extended. Try to keep your hips horizontal as you go up.
  3. Inhale, contract your left quadriceps and slowly lower your left leg back to your starting position.
  4. Repeat 15 times for 3 to 4 sets, then repeat with your left foot on the stepper and your right foot on the floor, controlling the negative portion of this move.

Expert advice:Use a small step. You don't want to feel pain in both knees.

If you are confident in your balance, you can step your left foot off the step and hold it before beginning the movement.

Start with a low step to ensure comfort in the knee joint. You can always go up a notch, it seems, as you feel more comfortable and your muscles get stronger. Similar to the previous exercise, this move will strengthen both knees at the same time.

Material used:stepper and ankle weights (optional)

Muscles Worked:quadriceps, hamstrings and calves

  1. Stand with your right foot on the step and your left foot to the side.
  2. Breathe in. Bend your left quad and bend your right knee until your left foot touches the floor. Again, try to keep your hips horizontal at all times.
  3. Exhale, engage your core, push off your left leg and return to your starting position.
  4. Repeat 15 times for 3 to 4 sets, then switch legs.

4. Leg extension

(Video) 4 Quadriceps (VMO) Strengthening Exercises for Painful Knees

You can perform this exercise at home with a chair and a resistance band or on a leg extension machine. However, you will adjust the leg extension movement because the way this machine is normally used puts too much strain on the knee.

This exercise takes the first exercise, the floor extension, to the next level, with added weight.

Material used:a chair and a resistance band or leg extension machine

Muscles Worked:quadriceps

  1. Sit tall in a chair and climb onto the front of the chair.
  2. Wrap a resistance band around your ankle and run the band under the chair, which you then reach back and grab with your hand.
  3. Exhale and slowly extend your leg fully in front of you in one movement.
  4. Inhale, tighten your quadriceps and slowly lower the leg back to 30 degrees.
  5. Perform 15 reps for 3 to 4 sets. Remember to maintain this 30-degree angle until your knee is healthy again.

This exercise can be performed anywhere, with or without equipment.

Material used:matte or flat surface, towel and ankle weight (optional)

Muscles Worked:quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes

(Video) Exercise Tip: Strengthening your quadriceps

  1. Lie on your back with your left knee bent and your left foot flat on the mat. Extend your right leg fully out in front of you and place an ankle weight on your thigh if desired. If this is your first time doing this exercise, don't use any weight.
  2. Squeeze your core, contract your right quad and lift your right leg about 2 inches off the mat. Keep it up during this exercise. Make sure you don't arch your back. You don't want any space between your back and the mat.
  3. Breathe in. With your right quad contracted, raise your right leg until your right thigh is in line with your left thigh. Hold this position for 1 count.
  4. Exhale and in a slow controlled manner lower your right leg to your starting position, keeping it about 2 inches from the mat.
  5. Repeat 15 times for 3 to 4 sets, then switch legs.

Expert advice:It is important to raise your right leg as high as your left thigh. Raising it higher does not strengthen your knee, but challenges your hip flexibility. That's not what sports are for.

Material used:2 resistance zones

Muscles Worked:quadriceps

  1. Tie a resistance band around a sturdy anchor and slide the other end slightly over the back of your right knee, facing the anchor. Step back until the band is stretched. Straighten your left leg and keep your right knee slightly bent.
  2. Exhale and push your right knee back to match your left knee and really exaggerate the contraction in the right quadriceps. Again, you want to see or at least feel the vastus medius tightening and contracting. Hold this position with resistance for 1 count.
  3. Inhale and slowly release the tension in the resistance band, bending your right knee back to your starting position. If you don't feel any resistance in your mid-lat, get a thicker band or move farther away from the anchor, which will tighten the band.
  4. Perform 15 reps for 3 to 4 sets and repeat on your left leg.

Most people experience knee pain at some point in their lives. Strengthening the muscles and ligaments around your knees can help stabilize and protect your knee.

This workout was created by Kat Miller, CPT. She has been featured in the Daily Post, is a freelance fitness writer and hasFitness with Kat. She currently trains at Manhattan's elite fitness studio Upper East Side Brownings, is a personal trainer at the New York Health and Racquet Club in downtown Manhattan, and teaches boot camp.

(Video) 10 Excellent Quadriceps Strengthening Exercises- Easy to Hard.


6 Quadriceps Exercises to Stabilize the Knee? ›

Place a small rolled towel underneath the knee. Slowly tighten the muscle on top of the thigh (quadriceps) and push the back of the knee down into the rolled towel. Hold contraction for 5 seconds and then slowly release, resting 5 seconds between each contraction. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions, 1 time daily.

What exercises help stabilize the knee? ›

Our 7 Best Exercises for Knee Stability
  • Lateral walks. To get into position for lateral walks, connect your ankles with a theraband, keep your knees over your ankles and slightly squat. ...
  • Lunges. ...
  • Straight leg raises. ...
  • Bridges. ...
  • Step-ups. ...
  • Wall squats. ...
  • Calf raises.
Jan 10, 2022

How do you do quad exercises for osteoarthritis of the knee? ›

Place a small rolled towel underneath the knee. Slowly tighten the muscle on top of the thigh (quadriceps) and push the back of the knee down into the rolled towel. Hold contraction for 5 seconds and then slowly release, resting 5 seconds between each contraction. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions, 1 time daily.

What is the best exercise for VMO strengthening? ›

Seated Isometric VMO and Adduction: Sit on a chair or platform where your feet hang freely. Place a ball between your thighs and squeeze the ball together activating your VMO. Hold your contraction for 10 seconds. Again, feel your VMO to ensure its activation and increase length of contraction as you become stronger.

Can weak quads cause knee instability? ›

“The quadriceps are the primary muscles that help support the knees. If you have weakness in your quads, that can lead to a degree of instability in your knees,” says physical therapist Tim Bungo, PT, SCS. If there's instability in your knees, that's likely to lead to a greater amount of wear and tear within the joint.

Can weak quads cause knee buckling? ›

Quadriceps Insufficiency

It is common to experience knee buckling when squatting, and your quadriceps muscles cannot hold up your weight when they are weak. The quadriceps are four muscles found on your front thigh, and quadriceps weakness causes knee buckling.

What stabilizes the knee the most? ›

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the major stabilizing ligament of the knee. The ACL is located in the center of the knee joint and runs from the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone), through the center of the knee.

What fixes knee instability? ›

Treatments for knee instability
  • Rest, ice and elevation to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can also reduce pain and swelling.
  • A knee brace to support the knee as it heals.
  • Physical therapy to improve strength and mobility.

What is the most important knee stabilizer? ›

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most important parts of the knee joint because of its stabilizing job. When it gets sprained or torn, usually from athletic activity, it can result in serious pain and knee instability.

What are 3 exercises for osteoarthritis? ›

You can start with short, brisk walks, climbing up and down stairs, or riding a stationary bike. As your endurance builds up, go for 30- to 45-minute sessions. Walking, biking, swimming, tai chi, yoga, and water aerobics are all good aerobic exercises for people with osteoarthritis.

Will strengthening my quads help knee pain? ›

Research shows that strengthening your quadriceps — a.k.a. the muscles in your thighs — can help protect your knee and lessen pain. And for people who do not yet have arthritis in their knees, strong quads may even help prevent or delay the onset.

What exercises should I avoid with osteoarthritis of the knee? ›

Although everyone with osteoarthritis is different, Halpern says that exercises that tend to aggravate knee osteoarthritis are deep squats, lunges, and any movement that pounds on the joint.

What two muscles extend the leg and stabilize the knee? ›

The quadriceps femoris is one of the strongest muscle groups in the body that covers the anterior aspect of the femur. This group of muscles has a common function. They extend the leg at the knee joint. The rectus femoris has an additional role in stabilizing the hip joint and aiding in the flexion of the thigh.

What happens when the VMO is weak? ›

When the VMO is weak, the other quadriceps muscles pull the knee cap to the outside part of the groove. This can lead to rubbing and excess wear and tear of the joint surfaces in the outside or lateral patellofemoral joint region.

How do I know if my VMO is weak? ›

When the VMO isn't functionally optimally, the knee cap tends to shift slightly out of place during movements such as squats and lunges, causing pain and inflammation behind the knee-cap.

Does walking strengthen quads? ›

Along with its many health benefits, walking also exercises several different muscles. The primary muscles used in walking include the quadriceps and hamstrings, the calf muscles and the hip adductors.

What muscle weakness in the knee is osteoarthritis? ›

A consequence of knee joint osteoarthritis (OA) is an inability to fully activate the quadriceps muscles, a problem termed arthrogenic muscle inhibition (AMI). AMI leads to marked quadriceps weakness that impairs physical function and may hasten disease progression.

Why is my knee suddenly unstable? ›

Knee instability can be caused by damage to the supporting ligaments of the knee, osteoarthritis, or a mechanical issue. It may occur after an injury or for no reason at all. Women, because of their wider-set hips, are more likely than men to experience knee joint instability.

What is the knee trick in bed? ›

For those unfamiliar, that knee thing refers to a makeout position where one person is on the bottom with their thighs straddling their lover. The lover on top then spreads the bottom lover's legs and uses their knee to pleasure the clitoris.

How do you stop your knee from collapsing? ›

Common treatment options include:
  1. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). This is a common home treatment for minor injuries. ...
  2. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). ...
  3. Support. ...
  4. Ultrasound. ...
  5. Physical therapy. ...
  6. Reduction. ...
  7. Prescription medications. ...
  8. Surgery.
Jun 9, 2018

How do you fix weak quads? ›

The 7 Best Quad Exercises to Build Stronger Thighs
  1. Straight leg raises.
  2. Short arc quads.
  3. Wall slides.
  4. Terminal knee extensions.
  5. Step-ups.
  6. Split squats.
  7. Walking lunges.
Nov 30, 2022

What gives your knee stability? ›

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a main stabilizer of the knee, providing both translational and rotatory constraint.

What muscles are used for knee stability? ›

These are the quadriceps and the hamstrings. The strength and dexterity of these two important muscle groups greatly impacts the ability and functionality of the knee. In addition to the quadriceps and hamstrings, the two calf muscles in our legs also play a role in how well the knee moves.

What is the test for knee instability? ›

The Lachman test is a passive accessory movement test of the knee performed to identify the integrity of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The test is designed to assess single and sagittal plane instability.

Will a knee brace help with knee instability? ›

The braces are designed to reduce knee instability following injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and to decrease additional injuries during athletic activities.

Does knee instability go away? ›

Physical therapy is necessary to regain range of motion and strength, with full recovery taking three to six months.

Do knee braces help with instability? ›

Functional braces are designed to reduce knee instability and may also reduce the risk of injuring other parts of the knee.

What is the difference between a knee brace and a stabilizer? ›

The stabilizers offer a slightly more advanced support, while the hinged braces confer the most advanced support due to their ability to more or less mimic the natural movement of the knee.

What is the best knee support for no cartilage? ›

Braces. An offloading brace can be effective when cartilage loss in the knee s confined to only one area of the knee. These offloading braces push the knee away from the side of no cartilage, reducing pressure and inflammation in that part of the knee.

Is climbing stairs good for arthritic knees? ›

And when knee arthritis or a torn knee ligament strikes, climbing stairs, walking, and even standing can be painful. Strengthening the knee is one way to prevent knee trouble and deal with a knee condition you already have. One exercise that's simple to do is stair climbing.

What's the best exercise for arthritic knees? ›

Aerobic exercise

Examples of aerobic exercises that are easy on joints include walking, bicycling, swimming and water aerobics. Try to work up to 150 minutes of somewhat hard aerobic exercise every week. You can exercise 10 minutes at a time if that's easier on your joints.

What exercises should you not do with bad knees? ›

High-impact exercises can further injure painful knees. Avoid jarring exercises such as running, jumping, and kickboxing. Also avoid doing exercises such as lunges and deep squats that put a lot of stress on your knees. These can worsen pain and, if not done correctly, cause injury.

Do quads straighten the knee? ›

Your quad muscles are on the front of your thigh. They help you straighten your knee so you can kick, run and jump.

What muscles straighten the knee? ›

The quadriceps muscles of the knee meet just above the patella and attach to it through a tendon called the quadriceps tendon. The patella further attaches to the tibia through a tendon called the patella tendon. The quadriceps muscle, quadriceps tendon and patellar tendon all work together to straighten the knee.

What is the #1 mistake that makes bad knees worse? ›

You're putting too much pressure on your knee

The right exercise is good for your knee, and the wrong exercise, such as running, can put too much pressure on your knee. Likewise, doing deep bends and squats for exercise for leisure, as with gardening, can exacerbate knee pain.

How can I stop my knee osteoarthritis from progressing? ›

Get Physical

Physical activity is the best available treatment for OA. It's also one of the best ways to keep joints healthy in the first place. As little as 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five times a week helps joints stay limber and strengthens the muscles that support and stabilize your hips and knees.

What triggers osteoarthritis flare ups? ›

The most common triggers of an OA flare are overdoing an activity or trauma to the joint. Other triggers can include bone spurs, stress, repetitive motions, cold weather, a change in barometric pressure, an infection or weight gain. Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an inflammatory disease that affects the skin and joints.

What causes weak quads? ›

Quadriceps weakness may result from the pain of osteoarthritis (7, 10), however, some have suggested that quadriceps weakness precedes the onset of knee osteoarthritis (OA), and is itself a risk factor for the development of knee OA, particularly in women (2, 24).

What muscles should I strengthen for bad knees? ›

Strengthening exercises. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, you can help reduce the stress on your knee joint by regularly working the muscles around your knee. To help strengthen your knees, focus on moves that work your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and hip muscles.

Does strengthening quads help knee pain? ›

Research shows that strengthening your quadriceps — a.k.a. the muscles in your thighs — can help protect your knee and lessen pain. And for people who do not yet have arthritis in their knees, strong quads may even help prevent or delay the onset.

What's the best exercise for bad knees? ›

Here are some exercises you can do if you have bad knees that will also help reduce pain.
  • Walking. Walking is a low-impact activity that doesn't put too much stress on your knees and can help strengthen the muscles in that area. ...
  • Lateral Walk. ...
  • Monster Walk. ...
  • Donkey Kicks. ...
  • Fire Hydrants. ...
  • Warm-Up Stretches. ...
  • Water Aerobics.

How long does it take to strengthen your quads? ›

You can see small results in even two to four weeks, after you begin a leg workout. You will have better stamina, and your legs will look a little more defined. But all in all, depending on your fitness levels, it does take three to four months for any remarkable difference.

Do weak quads cause knee pain? ›

Although knee pain may result from multiple factors including both biological and/or psychosocial, studies suggest that quadriceps muscle weakness can contribute to worsening knee pain [5]. Contrarily, greater quadriceps muscle strength has been shown to prevent further damage to knee joint structures [5,6].

Does sitting cause weak quads? ›

Weak Legs and Glutes

By sitting all day, you're not depending on your powerful lower body muscles to hold you up. This leads to muscle atrophy, which is the weakening of these muscles. Without strong leg and glute muscles to stabilize you, your body is at risk of injury.

What are the signs of quad weakness? ›


Difficulty bending and straightening the knee. Leg weakness and reduced range of motion. Sharp pain when running, jumping, or kicking.

What muscles are weak in osteoarthritis of the knee? ›

A consequence of knee joint osteoarthritis (OA) is an inability to fully activate the quadriceps muscles, a problem termed arthrogenic muscle inhibition (AMI). AMI leads to marked quadriceps weakness that impairs physical function and may hasten disease progression.


1. 3 Quadriceps VMO Strengthening Exercises (for Any Level)
(Upright Health)
2. Quadriceps Exercises That Won't Put Pressure on the Knee : Tips for Working Out
3. 6 BEST Exercises For Knee Osteoarthritis (OA) Stretches & Strengthening Rehab
(E3 Rehab)
4. 7 Best Knee Strengthening Exercises - Ask Doctor Jo
5. Science Says This Is the BEST Quad Strengthening Exercise- MUST SEE THIS!
(Bob & Brad)
6. 6 Great Exercises for Knee Osteoarthritis
(Brian Abelson)


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